Grenada announces new date for controversial referendum

Friday, October 21, 2016

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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) – Grenada’s supervisor of elections, Alex Phillip, has announced November 24 as the new date citizens will vote in a referendum on a new constitution.


Phillips made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Attorney General Cajeton Hood announced that the vote would not take place on October 27 as originally planned.


In the statement Phillip said he was advised Wednesday by the Governor-General Dr Cecile La Grenade that the seven writs issued on September 23 this year have been revoked.


The statement explained that on November 24, all registered electors would be entitled to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the approval of each of the seven Constitutional Amendment Bills as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.


As a result and in accordance with the Constitutional Referendum Act, the governor general has declared November 1 as the final day for registration of electors for participation in Constitutional Referendum Day.


"All persons who are entitled to be registered as electors in Grenada and who have not yet so been registered are invited to present themselves at the Parliamentary Elections Constituency Office nearest to their residence so that they can be registered as electors and exercise their franchise on Constitutional Referendum Day," the statement added.


On Tuesday Attorney General Hood,accompanied by Chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) Dr Francis Alexis, acknowledged that there was need for more public education on the Bills, especially the Rights and Freedom Bill that some people claim will create a loophole that could result in Grenada legalising same-sex unions.


Hood told reporters that, given the magnitude and historical significance of the Bills being put before the Grenadian public, "that we need to make sure as far as possible that the consultative process takes precedence.


"Further, I believe we are aware that one particular section of the Rights and Freedom Bill has caused growing concern in some circles and after extensive discussions with various stakeholders… the government of Grenada has come to the conclusion that there are certain issues which need to be addressed more fully," he said.


"The Constitution Reform Advisory Committee has listened also to all the contributions of the stakeholders in this matter and against this joint background it has been decided it would better serve the public good if an extension of approximately one month be given for the education process to be completed," he added.


Hood said that CRAC has sensed a genuine increase in national interest, and at the same time people are asking for more time to become more familiar with what is being proposed.


"While we appreciate that we cannot have an open-ended process, we understand the magnitude and historic significance of the Bills being presented to Grenadians for their approval," he added.


The other Bills to be voted on in the referendum include one that changes the name of the State from ‘Grenada’ to ‘Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and another would institute term limits for the prime minister; ensure that there is always an opposition leader; enable parliament to provide fixed dates for general elections; institute an Elections and Boundaries Commission; introduce the modern styling ‘Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’; and require that allegiance be sworn, no longer to the Queen, but to Grenada.


There is also a Bill that will allow Grenadians to decide whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as the island’s final court.


All seven Bills need to be passed by a two-thirds majority of those voting in the referendum to become law.

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